This morning I went with adventureswithemma.com on a swim hike across Grasmere and Rydal Water in the English Lake District. Previously the weather had been wet which had lowered the water temperature (it was around 14°C) and raised the water levels distinctly. As a novice open water swimmer I didn't want to swim too much in a single leg and this route made sense to me.
We met by the main road and changed into wetsuits before a short walk to the southern side of Grasmere. After some briefing on the Ruckraft and the morning's schedule we started on acclimatisation. It's good physics that water in the wetsuit is ultimately warming but it's always a shock to let it in. Fairly soon we headed across the lake and after a few minutes breaststroke I got my face in and headed for the far side. The swim was briefer than I'd thought and soon we were unpacking shoes to walk to Rydal Water. Looking at the GPS track later the swim was under 300m, so yes, short.
It's worth mentioning that the Ruckrafts are small inflatable 'U' shaped boats that support a rucsac within a large drybag. I'd expected that towing a hiking pack and shoes would be arduous but the effort seemed negligible. Moreover, the float was well behaved and only caught on my feet a few times and was readily moved 'downstream' to be out of the way. We were able to place the raft on our packs to walk to Rydal Water.
We walked a fair way along Rydal Water to reach calm water. Emma said that often the river is a safe and attractive entry to the lake but certainly not today. Walking was a good way to walk up after the first dip but the water beckoned again and we swam around two islands and back to a southern beach. Another 800m or so
|Emma towing a Ruckraft in Rydal Water|
Then we quickly (well as fast as one can with cooling digits) changed into hiking clothes and packed the deflated Ruckraft onto our packs. There was a brisk walk back to the car park via the 'corpse road' which gave excellent views of the valley and kept us away from traffic. I enjoyed the walks but would have like to have fitted in a third swim in the route. But perhaps better to leave wanting more, than wish to have done less?
The trip was a good opportunity for an otherwise solo swimmer to access the two lakes safely, and experience linking with a hike. Emma was clearly accustomed to the waters and used to managing guests so I'd recommend her company.